“Those who fought in Vietnam are part of us, part of our history. They reflected the best in us. No number of wreaths, no amount of music and memorializing will ever do them justice, but it is good for us that we honor them and their sacrifice. And it’s good that we do it in the reflected glow of the enduring symbols of our Republic.”
– President Ronald Reagan, 1984
The Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Fund, the same organization authorized by Congress in 1980 to build the national Vietnam Veterans Memorial, has created a virtual wall with photographs of the men and women who sacrificed their lives during the Vietnam War. They need your help in locating photographs of nearly 2,800 Vietnam veterans to complete this effort, called the Virtual Wall of Faces.
Among Californians listed on the memorial, 307 photographs are still needed – and almost 200 of those are service members who entered service in Los Angeles County.
Mike Kennedy has been helping to chip away at the numbers since last October, when the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) California State Council took on the project. Kennedy is the Southern District Director for the Council, and since he and the VVA put out the call for photos, they’ve made great progress. A total of 121 photos have been submitted for California service members, reducing the number of photos needed from 430 to 307.
“It’s important to preserve the history of Vietnam and what occurred there and the people that we lost there,” Kennedy said. “The Memorial Fund … they want to put the face with the name, and show who these people are, who made the ultimate sacrifice.”
High school yearbooks are a great source for finding photograph of Californians who died in Vietnam or remain missing, said Kennedy.
Here’s how you can help. Visit the Virtual Wall of Faces website and click on “advanced search.” Then you can select the dropdown for California and check the box at the bottom for “does not have photo.”
If you know any of the California service members, contact Kennedy by phone, (909) 563-0107, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The national Vietnam Veterans Memorial is “dedicated to honor the courage, sacrifice and devotion to duty and country of all who answered the call to serve during one of the most divisive wars in U.S. history.” It was dedicated on Nov. 13, 1982 and attracts more than 5.6 million visitors each year.